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Grand Cayman Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Grand Cayman Travel Deals

A – Overview

Grand Cayman, (pronounced K-mun) the largest of the Cayman islands, has become a premier tourist destination in recent years. With more than 500 banks, its capital, George Town, is the offshore banking center of the Caribbean. Retirees are drawn to the peace and tranquility of this British Crown Colony, site of a major condominium development.

grand cayman overview

The Caribbean climate is pleasantly constant. The average year round temperatures for the region are 78°F-88°F. Island life focuses on the sea. Snorkelers will find a paradise; beach lovers will marvel at the powdery sands of Seven Mile Beach Downtown shopping areas will of course be uncomfortably hot at midday at any time of the year, but air-conditioning provides welcome relief. Visitors travel to the Caymans to slow down and relax in a setting of comfort and beauty. The best strategy seems to be to stay near the beaches most of the day, where water and trade winds provide just the right temperature for enjoyment. Shopping is recommended for early or late in the day.

Even the rains cooperate in maintaining the atmosphere of perfectly designed weather. The rainy season consists mostly of brief showers interspersed with sunshine. You can watch the clouds come over, feel the rain, and have the sun to dry you off, all while remaining in your lounge chair.

The British colony consists of Grand Cayman, smaller Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, but almost all of the Cayman Islands’ population of 32,000 live on Grand Cayman. The Caymans are located 180 miles northwest of Jamaica and 480 miles due south of Miami. Cayman’s beaches are considered to be among the best in the world. The favorite is Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman. The abundance of fish, marine life and spectacular coral reefs which can be found in the surrounding waters make the Cayman Islands ideal for diving enthusiasts.

The gingerbread-style buildings lining George Town’s harbor front are prime examples of traditional island architecture. Grand Cayman is only 22 miles long and 8 miles across at its widest point.

From any point in the resort area of Grand Cayman, it is easy to walk or bike to the shopping centers, restaurants, and entertainment spots along West Bay Road. George Town is small enough to see on foot. If you are exploring Grand Cayman by car, there is a well-maintained road that circles the island. To get around Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, it is best to rent a car or a moped. Many resorts rent bicycles for local sightseeing.

Cayman Brac, northeast of Grand Cayman, is about 12 miles long and 1 mile wide. This area is dotted with fascinating caves and dozens of wrecks for divers to explore. It provided the basis for Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel Treasure Island.

Seven miles southeast of Cayman Brac, the tiny island of Little Cayman is best known as a sanctuary for wild birds and iguanas. It is also the primary site for bone fishing.

English is the official language of the islands, although it often sounds as though the speaker is combining an American southern drawl with a lilting Welsh accent.

The Cayman Turtle Farm, one of Grand Cayman’s main tourist attractions, sets an example for environmental conservation and preservation of the species. The 65-acre Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is a national treasure. The National Trust’s Mastic Trail is a 2 mile footpath through unspoiled woodlands on the North Side

The Cayman Islands have a number of nightclubs, which sometimes feature international entertainment. Succulent seafood specialties abound in the local restaurants

Spectacular natural beauty, a wealth of activities and points of interest, and all the modern conveniences to make your stay as comfortable as possible can be found on Grand Cayman. For the best in Carribean water sports, sightseeing, dancing and shopping, Grand Cayman is the place to start

B – City information

Area: 100 sq miles

Population: 39,335

Capital city: George Town on Grand Cayman

Language: English

Time: U.S. eastern standard time is in effect year-round; daylight saving time is not observed.

Religious Denominations: United Church, Anglican, Baptist, Roman Catholic

Government: British dependency Tourism, banking, insurance and finance

Major industries:

Major trading partners: USA, UK, Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan

Weather:

Average Temperatures:

 

 

High

Low

January

86F

67F

February

86F

67F

March

86F

68F

April

87F

70F

May

87F

72F

June

89F

74F

July

90F

73F

August

90F

73F

September

89F

73F

October

88F

73F

November

87F

71F

December

87F

69F

Local Seasons

Very warm, tropical climate throughout the year. High temperatures are moderated by trade winds. The rainy season is from May to October but showers are generally of short duration. Required clothing: Lightweight cottons and linens and a light raincoat or umbrella for the rainy season. Slightly warmer clothes may be needed on cooler evenings or in air conditioned areas.

Sunburn or sunstroke is a major health risk. A long-sleeve shirt, a hat, and long pants or a beach wrap are essential on a boat, for midday at the beach, and whenever you go out sightseeing. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, especially if you’re fair-skinned, and apply it liberally and frequently on nose, ears, and other sensitive and exposed areas. Make sure the sunscreen is waterproof if you’re engaging in water sports, limit your sun time for the first few days, and drink plenty of liquids, monitoring intake of caffeine and alcohol, which hasten the dehydration process.

When to Go:
mid-December to mid-April winter is the peak tourist season, when rates are substantially higher and beaches and lodgings more crowded, it’s best to go in the summer. There is more rain in summer, but it tends to come in downpours that clear as quickly as they arrive. Business Hours: Normally, banks are open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 2:30pm, Friday from 9am to 1pm and 2: 30 to 4: 30pm. Shops are usually open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm. Money

ATMs:
ATMs are readily available on Grand Cayman.

Exchanging Money:
Although the American dollar is accepted everywhere, you’ll save money if you go to the bank and exchange U.S. dollars for Cayman Island (CI) dollars.

Taxes:
At large hotels, a service charge is generally included and can be anywhere from 6% to 10%; smaller establishments and some villas and condos leave tipping up to you. There is a 10% government tax added at all accommodations and a departure tax that must be paid when leaving the country. Otherwise, there is no tax on goods or services.

Tipping:
Although tipping is customary at restaurants, some automatically include 15% on the bill, so check it carefully. Taxi drivers expect a 10%-15% tip.

Electricity:
110 volts AC 60 cycles, so American and Canadian appliances will not need adapters or transformers.

Emergencies:
For medical or police emergencies, dial tel. 911 or 555.

Hospital:
There’s a hospital on Grand Cayman, and another small one on Cayman Brac. Language:
English is the official language, and it is spoken with a distinctive brogue that reflects Caymanians’ Welsh, Scottish, and English heritage. For example, three is pronounced “tree,” pepper is “pep-ah,” and Cayman is “K-man.” The number of Jamaican residents in the workforce means that the Jamaican patois and heavier accents are also common.

Arriving & Departing

By Air
Flights land at Owen Roberts Airport GMC Grand Cayman, 345/949-5252, Gerrard-Smith Airport CYB Cayman Brac, or Edward Bodden Airfield Little Cayman. Call Owen Roberts Airport for flight information.

Flights from New York to Kingston or Montego Bay, Jamaica, take about 4 hours; those from Miami, about an hour. Nonstop flights from London and Paris to the Caribbean are about 7 hours. Once you’ve arrived in the Caribbean, hops between the islands range from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

Transfers Between the Airport and Town:
Upon arrival, some hotels offer free pickup at the airport. Taxi service and car rentals are also available.

Getting Around

By Bicycle, Motorcycle, or Scooter:
When renting a motor scooter or bicycle, remember to drive on the left : and wear sunblock. Bicycles can be rented by the day as can scooters.
By Car
The Cayman Islands are relatively flat and fairly easy to negotiate if you’re careful in traffic. Just remember : driving is on the left, so when pulling out into traffic, look to your right. A good road network connects the coastal towns of all three main islands.

Road Conditions
Island roads are often potholed, bumpy, and narrow. Drive with extreme caution, especially if you venture out at night. You won’t see guardrails on every hill and curve, although the drops can be frighteningly steep, and pedestrians and livestock often share the roadway with vehicles.

By Air: The main island of Grand Cayman is connected to Cayman Brac by internal flights run by Cayman Airways and Island Air and to Little Cayman by Island Air only. Island Air also operates a service between Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Bus: Public minibuses operate from George Town to West Bay every 15 minutes, to Bodden Town every 30 minutes and to East End and North Side every hour The bus terminal is located opposite the public library on Edward Street in central George Town. Service is normally from 0600-2300 until midnight on weekends for most routes. There are 38 minibuses operated by 24 licensed operators. Routes are color coded with colors marked on the front and rear of the buses. Public buses have blue license plates and standard fares are displayed inside.

Taxi: There are large fleets of taxis

C – Attractions & Things To Do

Cayman Islands National Museum
Harbor Drive, in George Town
345/949-8368
Admission charged. free for children 6 and under.
Mon. to Fri. 9 – 5 ; Saturday 10 – 2 last admission is half an hour prior to closing.
is in a much-restored clapboard-sided antique building directly on the water. The veranda-fronted building served in prior years as the island’s courthouse. The formal exhibits include a collection of Caymanian artifacts collected by Ira Thompson beginning in the 1930s. The museum includes a gift shop, theater, cafe, and more than 2,000 items portraying the natural, social, and cultural history of the Caymans.

cayman islands national museum

Cayman Turtle Farm, Northwest Point
345/949-3893; daily 8: 30 – 5.
Admission charged. free for children 5 and under.
This is the only green sea-turtle farm of its kind in the world. Once a multitude of turtles swam in the surrounding waters of the islands, but today these creatures are few in number practically extinct elsewhere in the Caribbean, and the green sea turtle has been designated an endangered species . You cannot bring turtle products into the United States.

This government-run operation raises green turtles for purposes of increasing their population in the wild as well as to provide the local market with edible turtle meat. The facility constantly replenishes the local waters with hatchling and yearling turtles. Visitors are welcome to look at 100 circular concrete tanks in which the sea creatures can be observed in every stage of development. The hope is that one day their population in the sea will regain its former status. Turtles here range in size from 6 ounces to 600 pounds. At a snack bar and restaurant, turtle dishes can be sampled.

At Batabano, on the North Sound, fishermen tie up with their catch, much to the delight of photographers. You can buy lobster in season, fresh fish, and conch. A large barrier reef protects the sound, which is surrounded on three sides by the island and is a mecca for diving and sports fishing.

South Sound Road, is lined with pines and, in places, old wooden Caymanian houses. Beyond the houses are many good spots for a picnic.

On the road again, you reach Bodden Town, once the largest settlement on the island. At Gun Square, two cannons once commanded the channel entrance through the reef. They are now stuck muzzle-first into the ground.

On the way to the East End, just before Old Isaac Village, sprays of water shoot up from the shore like geysers. These are called blowholes, and the force of the water rushing upward sounds like the roar of a lion.

A little farther on, an anchor sticks up from the ocean floor. As the story goes, this is a relic of the famous “Wreck of the Ten Sails” in 1788. A more modern wreck, the Ridgefield, can also be seen. This was a 7,500-ton Liberty ship from New England, which struck the reef in 1943.

Old Man Bay is reached by a road that opened in 1983.

From there you can travel along the north shore of the island to Rum Point, which has a lovely beach. Rum Point got its name from barrels of rum that once washed ashore here after a shipwreck. It is surrounded by towering causarina trees blowing in the trade winds. Most of these trees have hammocks hanging from their trunks, inviting you to enjoy the leisurely life. With its cays, reefs, mangroves, and shallows, Rum Point is a refuge that extends west and south for 7 miles. It divides the two “arms” of Grand Cayman. The sound’s many spits of land and its plentiful lagoons are ideal for snorkeling, swimming, wading, and birding. It you get hungry, drop in to the Wreck Bar for a juicy hamburger. After visiting Rum Point, you can head back toward Old Man Village, where you can go south along a cross-island road through savannah country that will eventually lead you west to George Town.

Walking Trail

In Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park
tel. 345/947-9462
The park is open daily from 7: 30am to 5: 30pm.
Admission charged. free for children 5 and under.
On 60 acres of rugged wooded land off Frank Sound Road, North Side, the park offers visitors a 1 hour walk through wetland, swamp, dry thicket, mahogany trees, orchids, and bromeliads. The trail is eight-tenths of a mile long. Along it are seen chickatees, the freshwater turtles found only on the Caymans and in Cuba. Also seen in the area are the rare Grand Cayman parrot, the anole lizard, with its cobalt-blue throat pouch, and the even rarer endangered blue iguana. There are six rest stations with visitor information along the trail.

There is a visitor center with changing exhibitions, and a canteen for food and refreshments. The trail is located within the botanic park adjacent to the woodland trail and includes a heritage garden with a re-creation of a traditional Cayman home, garden, and farm; a floral garden with 1 1/2 acres of flowering plants; and a 2-acre lake with three islands, which is home to many native birds.

Pedro St. James National Historic Site
Savannah, Grand Cayman
345/947-3329
This restored great house dates from 1780 when only 400 people lived on the island. It survived the island hurricanes, but was destroyed by fire in 1970. It has been authentically restored as the centerpiece of a new heritage park with a visitor center and an audio-visual theater with a laser light show.

Over the years the property was called a castle and then a fortress, and legends sprang up as to its history. Actually, there never was a Spanish-built castle, nor any proof that pirates ever came ashore at Pedro, much less built a fortress here. These were 20th century fabrications combining local folktales and the stories created by an American-born adventurer turned entrepreneur, Tom Hubbell, who owned the site from 1954 until his death in 1977. In the 1960’s, Hubbell renovated the long-abandoned stone ruins, originally planning a small guest house and bar. He chiseled the date “1631” into the top of the building’s entrance, added jagged crenellations along the top level and promoted it as a fortress once inhabited by Captain Morgan and other pirates.

Pedro St. James Grounds
The grounds have been landscaped as a magnificent natural tropical park with native trees and plants, as well as traditional medicinal and vegetable gardens representative of a small early 19th century West Indian plantation. The Visitors’ Center includes five-buildings in 19th century architectural style surrounding a landscaped courtyard. The main attraction is the 49-seat state of the art multimedia theater featuring a 20-minute video presentation on Pedro St. James and highlights of 200 years of Cayman history. Other facilities include a resource center, gift shop, and café. Interpretative displays and signs throughout the great house and grounds allow self-guided tours but guides are also available.

Grand Cayman’s Q. E. II Botanic Park
Visitors Center, Heritage Garden and Floral Garden
345 947-9462
Located on Frank Sound Road in the district of North Side about a 45-minute drive from George Town
Daily at 9 – 5: 30. Visitors are advised to enter the park by 4: 30 p.m.
Admission charged. free for children under six.

Visitors Center
Designed as a contemporary interpretation of Colonial Caribbean and Caymanian architecture, the reception center has wooden shuttered windows, wide verandah and brick courtyard with waterfall/fountain. The Center is painted in Caribbean colors of green and pale coral and features a central area offering park information as well as an area for permanent and changing exhibits.

The second floor has a classroom for lectures and meetings. Other facilities include a gift shop stocked with gardening, horticulture and tropical flora-themed books and souvenirs; a snack bar/café set in a garden courtyard and a retail plant shop plants can only be sold to residents.

Heritage Garden
Nearby, the two-acre Heritage Garden recreates a Caymanian way of life known generations ago, long before this country came to enjoy the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. This attraction’s main feature is the restored early 20th-century Rankin home, a traditional tiny three-room zinc-roofed Caymanian wooden cottage The restoration features a porch, cook room with caboose, cistern, natural well, native coral stone fences and pathways lined with conch shells. Some of the original fixtures remain inside.

Planning the Heritage Garden involved years of research on existing old gardens in the Cayman Islands. National Trust and Botanic Park staff first had to identified and located traditional plants and researched information about their planting style, providing the design for the surrounding two acres. The Heritage Garden adds an important historic and educational feature to the Botanic Park, demonstrating how early Caymanian settlers lived under austere conditions, depending heavily on their land for survival. In addition the Garden will serve as a valuable propagation source of traditional plants and trees which are rapidly disappearing as new ornamental varieties are imported.

Floral Garden
The Floral Garden is the Botanic Park’s most ambitious project, a horticultural triumph on this very selectively fertile limestone island. Visitors stroll through a multicolored mosaic of hundreds of species of tropical and sub tropical plants spread over approximately 2.5 acres. Flowering plants and shrubs, succulents and cacti are arranged by color in nine distinct displays.

The centerpiece of the Floral Garden is an ornate white wooden gazebo atop a rise, overlooking ponds filled with water lilies and the nearby two-acre lake, a prime habitat for a variety of resident and migratory bird life. And a perfect wedding location! Visitors can relax in the shade of the gazebo and enjoy a view of a waterfall cascading off an elevated freshwater pond filled with water lilies. The pavilion also offers an excellent view of the lake.

Lake Becomes New Natural Attraction
Another important attraction is the two-acre lake located near the southern end of the Botanic Park, just beyond the Floral Garden. Completed in August 1996, the area was originally part of the adjacent swamp. Decades of accumulated muck was removed from the site leaving a two-acre brackish water lake approximately 3.5 feet deep. The area has three small islands with native vegetation in the center which provide an important habitat and breeding area for native birds that live near large bodies of water. The Lake has already become an active site for birdwatchers, attracting a fascinating range of bird life. Among species sighted have been Tricolored Herons, Common Moorhen, Green Herons, Black-necked Stilts, American Coots, Blue-winged Teal, Cattle Egrets and rare West Indian Whistling Ducks. On the southern edge of the lake, visitors see native wetland vegetation mingled with Caribbean plants.

Beaches

Seven Mile Beach. Grand Cayman’s west coast is where you’ll find the famous Seven Mile Beach and its expanses of powdery white sand. The beach is litter-free and sans peddlers, so you can relax in an unspoiled, hassle-free atmosphere. This is Grand Cayman’s busiest vacation center. You’ll also find headquarters for the island’s aquatic activities here.

Smith’s Cove. Off South Church Street and south of the Grand Old House, this is a popular local bathing spot on weekends.

East End. The best windsurfing is just off these beaches at Colliers, by Morritt’s Tortuga Club.

Cayman Kai, Rum Point, And Water Cay. These isolated and unspoiled beaches are the favored hideaways for residents and visitors “in the know.”

Fishing

If you enjoy action fishing, Cayman waters have plenty to offer. Some 25 boats are available for charter, offering fishing options that include deep-sea, reef, bone, tarpon, light-tackle, and fly-fishing. Grand Cayman charter operators to contact are

Bayside Watersports 345/949-3200,
Burton’s Tourist Information & Activity Services 345/949-6598
Captain Crosby’s Watersports 345/945-4049
Island Girl 345/947-3029

Golf

Grand Cayman-Britannia. This golf course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is really three in one: a nine-hole, par-70 regulation course, an 18-hole, par-57 executive course, and a Cayman course played with a Cayman ball that goes about half the distance of a regulation ball. Greens fees run $40-$90, and golf carts are mandatory. Next to the Hyatt Regency, 345/949-8020.

Links At Safe Haven. Windier, and therefore more challenging, Cayman’s first 18-hole championship golf course is set amid a virtual botanical garden of indigenous trees, plants, and flowering shrubs. The par-71, 6,605-yard course also has an aqua driving range the distance markers and balls float, a clubhouse, pro shop, and restaurant. Greens fees run to $60. Golf carts are mandatory. 345/949-5988.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Pristine water, breathtaking coral formations, and plentiful and exotic marine life mark the Great Wall : a world-renowned dive site. Many top-notch dive operations offer a variety of services, instruction, and equipment. A must-see for adventurous souls is Stingray City, noted as the best 12-ft dive in the world. Trinity Caves and Orange Canyon are typical Grand Cayman dives. They are not too strenuous, are easily accessible, and are full of marine life.

The best shore-entry snorkeling spots are south of George Town, at Eden Rock and Parrot’s Landing; north of town, at the reef just off the West Bay Cemetery on Grand Cayman’s west coast; and in the reef-protected shallows of the island’s north and south coasts.

Divers are required to be certified and possess a “C” card. Otherwise they can take a full certification course. Among the dive operators are:

Aquanauts 45/945-1990 or 800/357-2212
Bob Soto’s 345/949-2022 or 800/262-7686
Don Foster’s 345/945-5132 or 800/833-4837
Eden Rock 345/949-7243
Parrot’s Landing 345/949-7884 or 800/448-0428
Red Sail Sports 345/945-5965 or 800/255-6425
Sunset Divers 345/949-7111 or 800/854-4767
Turtle Reef Divers 345/949-1700

D – Family Fun Attractions

SNUBA and not Scuba
This cross between scuba diving and snorkeling is a wonderful experience for children and adults alike. Because you are tied to an inflatable raft that holds your oxygen tank you can enjoy the same experiences as scuba diving. Any person can do this because no certification is required. For the best experience, don’t forget to bring some food along to feed the fish. Anything from squid to breakfast cereal will do.

Atlantis Submarine
Why not, it should! Which child doesn’t want to get up close and personal to hundreds of rainbow colored tropical fish without having to step foot in water. If lucky, one may get to see a reef shark, a hawksbill turtle, a moray eel or a pair of spotted eagle rays. Who knows what one may see swimming next to them! What better way for a child to really enjoy the Cayman Islands than this underwater experience of a lifetime.

Take a Glass-Bottom boat to Stingray City
This is definitely a must-see for children and families visiting these islands. World famous for its stingrays, children are able to hold and feed these puppy-like creatures with safety all while in waist height water a half-mile from shore-line. This is the only place in the world where you can do this.

Cardinal D’s Park is for the children
Another popular attraction is Cardinal D’s Park, which is located five minutes from George Town and Seven Mile Beach. This park is home to over sixty species of exotic birds, Cayman parrots, blue iguanas, agoutis, whistling ducks, emus, miniature ponies, and too many other local animals. Children can enjoy the many sites of the local animals that are found in these islands as well as interacting with some of these animals.

Pedro St. James
This is a must for any child that is visiting these islands. This natural landmark features a visitor center and a 24-minute video reviewing 200 years of local history, complete with live special effects. Children can relive the memories of early settlers of this castle.

Pure family entertainment – Bowling on Grand Cayman
The newly constructed Stingray Bowling Center offers a fun-filled atmosphere with pure enjoyment for children as well as adults alike. Children are sure to enjoy themselves with Cayman’s newest sport. This 10-lane center boasts user-firendly Qubica Automatic Scoring, a computerized scoring system that takes the guesswork out of score keeping. Children are sure to enjoy glow bowling to the latest dance music, bowling birthday parties and learn-to-bowl sessions. Call 345-945-4444.

Take a cruise back in time with The Jolly Roger
This experience is sure to bring the child out of everyone. Be a part of the action and take a ride aboard this authentic replica of a 17th century Spanish galleon fully equipped with cannons that fire, walking the plank, and sword fighting. Remember to bring your swim gear.

Local Traditions
The National Museum is a local one-of-a-kind experience for any child. Tons of pictures, underwater relief maps, old coins, stuffed birds and short films put the Cayman Islands into a unique perspective. top

Turtle Farm
The Cayman Islands Turtle Farm is home to more that 14,000 Green Sea Turtles, also known as “Las Tortugas” or “Buffalo of the Sea”. Which child wouldn’t want to hold a tiny little green turtle or to pet a 400 pound hawksbill turtle? Both unique and educational, the Turtle Farm offers visitors the opportunity to leisurely view the working of an actual operating farm. From the tiniest hatchlings to the massive adults swimming in the one-million gallon breeding pond, the Farm is a constant hive of activity.

Besides the Green Sea Turtle, the Farm is also home to Loggerhead, Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles. When Christopher Columbus first discovered the islands in 1503, he named them “Las Tortugas”, meaning The Turtles. Apparently, there were so many turtles the islands looked like they were covered with rocks! The Cayman Islands Turtle Farm boasts one of the island’s largest and most unique gift stores. Educational children’s gifts, books, jewelry, novelties and amazing pictures are all here. Conservation

If you wish to assist with the Farm’s conservation goals, you can sponsor the release of a Yearling green Sea Turtle. You will receive a special certificate in recognition of your contribution. Turtles are usually released once a year around the end of October.

Day and Night Camps

O2b Childz
O2B CHILDZ FUN ZONE is the first air conditioned, indoor children’s play area in the Cayman Islands. The FUN ZONE is 1,600 square feet full of play equipment, a toddler area, ride-on games, a large party room and small cafe. O2B CHILDZ provides a safe and stimulating environment where children feel free to enjoy themselves. Children of all ages are welcome but there are some height restrictions on the play equipment. Children under the age of 12 are guaranteed to find tons of fun things to do at O2B CHILDZ! Call 345-946-5439.

O2b Childz Fun Zone and Silver Thatch Excursions come together to present fun and educational summer programmes for your children to experience. Camp highlights include:

Red Sail Sports
Offers a full array of watersport activities for children and adults. With the introduction of the SASY program Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth, children as young as 6 years old can now join diving partent on an ocean scuba adventure.

Smyles Play Time Paradise
It’s play time in Cayman! At Smyles children enjoy the largest play area in Cayman in a colorful, positive environment. Whether it’s climbing, walking sliding or just handing out, there is never a shortage of things for your children to do! Work your body, rest your mind. Smyles provides fun in a safe environment. Bring your children for hours of family fitness and fun. World Gym and Smyles exclusively offer the only play center where children can have an adventure while parents work out in the world-famous World Gym. Smyles offers the latest in children entertainment with games and fun stations by some of the world’s leading children play area designers. Call 345-946-5800.

Mini Golf
Miniature Golf Course is an 18-hole course with a unique Jungle style theme including Elephants and Giraffes concrete not real and a waterfall, stream and pond that is challenging for children and adults alike! Miniature Golf Course is located in the Seven Mile Beach near the Hyatt Regency on West Bay Road and is open every day of the week.

Planet Arcadia
Cayman’s all-inclusive video game arena features the latest video games, sports, martial arts, car, truck, boat and bike racing! At Planet Arcadia you’ll also find: Science Fiction Games,Simulator Games,Pool Tables,Air Hockey , Pinball,Basketball Hoop Shot … A snack counter is also provided offering a wide variety of cotton candy, hotdogs, frozen drinks, sodas, juices and popcorn. Planet Arcadia is located in Grand Harbour, Red Bay. top

Horseback Riding

Nicki’s Beach Rides
There are tons of activities for children and parents alike in these islands. How does a 1 1/2-hour leisure family horseback ride along one of the many white-sand beaches sound? This is an experience that is sure to last a child a lifetime. If this sounds good then Nicki’s beach rides is the thing for you. As one rider put it, “I learned a lot about the history of the islands; how the pirates buried gold here, and how the early settlers were a mixture of folks from Scotland, England, Wales and West Africa.” We all know children like horses. What better way for a child to enjoy these islands than riding one of the many friendly horses. These rides are educational as well as enjoyable. Call 345-945-5834. Honey Suckle Trail Rides

Horses can be enjoyed by experienced or non-experienced riders. You can enjoy riding one of the unspoiled beaches of Cayman on a horse. Guided, personal attention is given to children on these rides across scenic trails with extremely gentle horses. All horses are trained in the United States. You can enjoy a sunset ride or have a full-day of fun riding in the sun! Call 345-947-7976 or 916-3363. Pampered Ponies Ltd.

Featuring first-class professionally trained big and beautiful horses! Walk, trot and canter the beaches and beach trails of Grand Cayman. Offering private rides, early-mornings, sunsets, and evenings under the moonlight. Pick-up at your accommodation is available! Please call 345-945-2262 or 916-2540.

Cayman Brac’s Caves
It’s well worth the trip to Cayman Brac if you want to see amazing caves on a tour of the island’s many Heritage Attraction sites. Some of Brac Cave highlights include:
Peter’s Cave offers a spectacular view overlooking the South Side bluffs. The Great Cave is an amazing formation of stalagmites and stalactites near the old Lighthouse out by the bluffs. The Bat’s Cave, which is a well-lit, large cave where you may see some small bats “hanging out” in plain view.

Over the past 200 years the residents of Cayman Brac have sought shelter in these caves through some rare but severe storms that have crossed the islands. The caves also serve as home to a unique group of plant and animal inhabitants including small bats that feed on the insects.

Stingray City
One of the largest tourist attractions in the world, Stingray City is in 12 feet of water and mainly, but not exclusively, visited by scuba divers. The site was first noticed about ten years ago, when North Sound fishermen came to the calmer, shallower waters just over the reef to clean their fish. Soon they noticed stingrays, scavengers by nature, hanging around the boats inhaling any leftovers they could get their suckers on. Next, some particularly brave divemasters got in the water to hand-feed them, and before long the stingrays had become tame, almost pet-like. Today, you can swim under, over, and along with the rays. Their favourite food is squid, which you can feed them by hand. At Stingray sandbar, which is only waist deep, you can use a mask and snorkel and watch the rays swarm around you, brushing their velvety bellies against your hands and feet. This is the rays’ way of begging for food. The rays have no teeth, but use a powerful sucking motion to draw in their food. Some nearly six-feet in diameter. Their only means of defense is a barbed tail.

E – Events & Entertainments

February

Cayfest: Caymanian Cultural Extravaganza
Little Cayman Annual Mardi Gras Festival

March

Crazy for Cayman CayFest
Sunrise Golf Center Hosts Golf Classic

April

During April’s colorful Batabano Carnival, revelers dress up as dancing flowers and swimming stingrays.

June

At the Cayman Islands International Fishing tournament in June, huge cash prizes are awarded, including one for a quarter of a million dollars that’s given to the angler who breaks the existing blue marlin record.

June 16 – Queen’s Birthday bash in June features a British parade spiced with island-style panache,

July

Celebrity Golf

August

Lobster Season Opens

September

Total Submersion Dive Festival

October

Miss Cayman competition

The end of October sees the carnival-like atmosphere of Pirates Week which lasts 10 days and includes a mock invasion of Hog Sty Bay by a mock Blackbeard and company. Visitors and locals dress up like pirates and wenches; music, fireworks, and a variety of competitions take place island-wide.

November

Pirate’s Week Wrap-Up

Souvenir Christmas Stamps

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Bridgetown Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Events & Entertainments

F – Bridgetown Travel Deals

A – Overview

Easternmost of the Carribean islands, Barbados is a paradise where it is always summer. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the Carribean. The stunning white sand beaches on the Carribean side of the island contrast sharply with the rugged Atlantic coastline, which is reminiscent of the huge boulders and crashing waves of Big Sur. Roads paved in coral are bordered by fields of cane, royal palms, rolling hills and terraces. Tropical flowers bloom in profusion such as oleander, frangipani, jasmine, cassia, bougainvillea, hisbiscus and lady of the night. Scarlet flame trees and coral walls surround the well tended lawns of colorful houses.

bridgetown overview

Bridgetown, the capital, has the English atmosphere which is the island’s heritage. High quality British made clothing and Scottish and English fabrics are excellent buys in Bridgetown shops, and afternoon tea at “half after four” is routine throughout the city.

Barbadians (Bajans) are warm, friendly, hospitable and genuinely proud of their country and culture. Tourism is the island’s number one industry, but there is a sophisticated business community and stable government. Most of the 260,000 Bajans live in three areas: the capital city of Bridgetown, along the west coast north to Speightstown, and along the south coast down to Oistins. Others reside inland in tiny hamlets within the island’s 11 parishes.

Although it doesn’t offer casinos, Barbados has more than beach life. It is a prime destination for travelers interested in learning about West Indian culture, and it offers more sightseeing attractions than most Caribbean islands.

There are no rain forest in Barbados, and no volcanoes, but the Bajan landscape, when morning mists burn off to expose panoramas of valley and ocean, is one of the most majestic in the southern Caribbean. It is an ideal place to take bus or driving tours to visit the seaside villages, plantations, gardens, and English country churches, some dating from the 17th century.

Children are welcome in all areas of daily life on the island. There are activities and attractions that are family-oriented throughout Barbados.

Consider Barbados if you are seeking a peaceful island getaway. Although the south coast is known for its nightlife and the west-coast beach is completely built up, some of the island remains undeveloped. The east coast is tranquil, and travelers seeking solitude discover that they can often be alone there, yet conveniently close to populated areas.

Barbados has a state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal, filled with duty free shops, boutiques, and craft vendors. Excellent shore excursions are available from the terminal. Two fine golf courses, horseback riding, horse racing, cricket matches, fishing, scuba diving, tennis, windsurfing, and snorkeling are all first rate. There are even sightseeing submarines (air conditioned with viewing ports) that will give the non-diver an opportunity to view the sea’s wonders in comfort.

If Barbados sounds ideal as a vacation destination, then book a cruise or a flight and make your plans to visit. You will find that being in Barbados is even better than reading about it!

B – City information

Population:
260,000

Size:
21 miles x14 miles

Elevation:
Mainly flat; some hills; highest hill is 1,115 feet

Capital city:
Bridgetown, population: 97,000

Language:
English

Government:
independent nation within the British Commonwealth

Major industries:
Tourism, sugar production, oil production

Time Zone:
Atlantic Time Zone. Daylight saving time not observed. During the time the US is on daylight saving time, the time in Barbados matches Eastern daylight time in the US. Otherwise, time in Barbados is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Weather:
Barbados is warm and sunny all year round with an average daytime high of 75 – 85oF. The nights are usually slightly cooler.The prevailing northeast tradewinds blow steadily so that although it is bright and sunny, it is not unbearably hot. Rain usually comes in quick showers. The dry season lasts from January to June. Barbados is not in the direct hurricane path.

Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit):

  High Low
January – March 85F 69F
April – June 87F 72F
July – September 87F 74F
October – December 86F 71F

Public Holidays:
January 01 – New Year’s Day – National Holiday
January 21 – Errol Barrow Day (Prime Minister at time of independence, honored on his birthday, January 21st. )
April 13 – Good Friday – National Holiday
April 16 – Easter Monday – National Holiday
April 28 – National Heroes Day – National Holiday
May 01 – Labor Day – National Holiday
June 04 – Whit Monday – National Holiday
August 01 – Emancipation Day – National Holiday
August 06 – Kadooment Day – National Holiday (The finale to the Crop Over Festival)
November 30 – Independence Day – National Holiday
December 25 – Christmas Day – National Holiday
December 26 – Boxing Day – National Holiday

Health risks:
The little green apples that fall from the branches of the manchineel tree are poisonous to eat and toxic to the touch. Even taking shelter under the tree when it rains can give you blisters. Most manchineels are identified with signs. If you do come in contact with one, go to the nearest hotel and have someone there phone for a physician.

The water on the island is plentiful and safe to drink in both hotels and restaurants. It is naturally filtered through 1,000 feet of pervious coral.

Sunburn or sunstroke can be serious. A long-sleeve shirt, a hat, and long pants or a beach wrap are essential on a boat, for midday at the beach, and whenever you go out sightseeing. Use sunblock lotion on nose, ears, and other sensitive areas, limit your sun time for the first few days, and be sure to drink enough liquids.

Electricity:
Electric current on Barbados is 110 volts/50 cycles, U.S. standard. Hotels have adapters/transformers for guests from the United Kingdom or other countries that operate on 220-volt current.

Business Hours:
Bridgetown offices and stores are open weekdays 8:30-5, Saturday 8:30-1. Out-of-town locations may stay open later. Some supermarkets are open daily 8-6 or later. Banks are open Monday-Thursday 8-3, Friday 8-5 (some branches in supermarkets are open Saturday morning 9-noon), and at the airport the Barbados National Bank is open from 8 AM until the last plane leaves or arrives, seven days a week (including holidays).

U.S. Embassy:
Bridgetown
TEL: 246/436-4950.
FAX: 246/429-5246.

Emergencies:
Ambulance (511)
Coast Guard (246/427-8819; 246/436-6185 for non-emergencies)
Fire (311)
Police (211; 242/430-7100 for nonemergencies)

Language:
English is the official language and is spoken by everyone, everywhere. The Bajan dialect is based on Afro-Caribbean rhythms, with the addition of an Irish or Scottish lilt. The African influence is apparent in names of typical Bajan foods, such as cou-cou and buljol.

Mail:
The general post office, in Cheapside, Bridgetown, is open weekdays 7:30-5; the Sherbourne Conference Center branch is open weekdays 8:15-4:30; and branches in each parish are open weekdays 8-3:15. When sending mail to Barbados, be sure to include the parish name in the address.

Money Exchange:
Automated teller machines (ATMs) are available 24 hours a day at bank branches, transportation centers, shopping centers, gas stations, and other convenient spots throughout the island. You can use major credit cards to obtain cash advances (in local currency) using your usual PIN.

Currency:
The Barbados dollar is tied to the U.S. dollar at the rate of BDS$1.98 to $1. U.S. paper currency, major credit cards, and traveler’s checks are all accepted island-wide. Be sure you know which currency you’re dealing in when making a purchase. Prices quoted here are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.

Taxes:
A 71/2% government tax is added to all hotel bills. A 15% VAT is imposed on restaurant meals, admissions to attractions, and merchandise sales (other than duty-free). Prices are often tax inclusive; if not, the VAT will be added to your bill. At the airport, before leaving Barbados, each passenger must pay a departure tax of $12.50 (BDS$25), payable in either currency; children 12 and under are exempt.

Tipping:
A 10% service charge is usually added to hotel bills and restaurant checks in lieu of tipping. At your discretion, tip beyond the service charge to recognize extraordinary service. If no service charge is added, tip waiters 10%-15% and maids $1 per room per day. Bellhops and airport porters should be tipped $1 per bag. Taxi drivers :a 10% tip.

Passports & Visas:
U.S. and Canadian citizens can enter Barbados for visits of up to three months with proof of citizenship and a return or ongoing ticket. Acceptable proof is a valid passport or a birth certificate with a raised seal and a government-issued photo ID; a voter registration card or baptismal certificate is not acceptable.

Passport Offices:
The best time to apply for a passport or to renew is during the fall and winter. Before any trip, check your passport’s expiration date, and, if necessary, renew it as soon as possible.

Telephones:
The area code for Barbados is 246. Local calls are free from private phones and some hotels. From pay phones the charge is BDS25¢ for five minutes. Prepaid phone cards, which can be used in pay phones throughout Barbados and other Caribbean islands, are sold at shops, attractions, transportation centers, and other convenient outlets.

Directory & Operator Information:
For directory assistance dial 411.

International Calls:
The country code for the United States and Canada is 1; for Australia, 61; for New Zealand, 64; and for the United Kingdom, 44.

Long-Distance Calls:
Direct-dialing to the United States, Canada, and other countries is efficient, and the cost is reasonable, but always check with your hotel to see if a surcharge is added. To charge your overseas call on a major credit card without incurring a surcharge, dial 800/744-2000 from any phone.

Divers’ Alert:
Don’t fly within 24 hours after scuba diving.

Currency:
The Barbados dollar (BD$) is the official currency, available in $5, $10, $20, and $100 notes, as well as 10¢, 25¢, and $1 silver coins, plus 1¢ and 5¢ copper coins. The Bajan dollar is worth 50¢ in U.S. currency. Most stores take traveler’s checks or U.S. dollars. However, it’s best to convert your money at banks and pay in Bajan dollars. (Just before you leave home, you can check the current exchange rates on the Web at www.x-rates.com.)

Documents:
U.S. or Canadian citizens coming directly from North America to Barbados for a period not exceeding 3 months must have proof of identity and national status, such as a passport, which we always recommend carrying. However, a birth certificate (either an original or a certified copy) is also acceptable, provided it’s backed up with photo ID. For stays longer than 3 months, a passport is required. An ongoing or return ticket is also necessary. British subjects need a valid passport.

Arriving & Departing:

By Air:
Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) (Christ Church)
More than 20 daily flights arrive on Barbados from all over the world. Grantley Adams International Airport is on Highway 7, on the southern tip of the island at Long Bay, between Oistins and a village called The Crane. From North America, the four major gateways to Barbados are New York, Miami, Toronto, and San Juan. Flying time to Barbados is 41/2 hours from New York, 31/2 hours from Miami, 5 hours from Toronto, and 1 1/2 hours from San Juan.

Transfers Between the Airport and Town:
Airport taxis aren’t metered, but fares are Be sure, however, to establish the fare before getting into the cab and that you understand whether the price quoted is in U.S. or Barbadian dollars.

By Boat:
Half the annual visitors to Barbados are cruise passengers. Bridgetown’s Deep Water Harbour is on the northwest side of Carlisle Bay, and up to eight cruise ships can dock at the well appointed Cruise Ship Terminal. Downtown Bridgetown is a 1/2-mi (1-km) walk from the pier; a taxi costs about $3 each way.

Getting Around:

By Bus:
Bus service is efficient, inexpensive, and plentiful. Blue buses with a yellow stripe are public, yellow buses with a blue stripe are privately-owned and operated, as are white “Z-R” vans with a burgundy stripe. All travel frequently along Highway 1 (St. James Road) and Highway 7 (South Coast Main Road), as well as inland routes. The fare is low; exact change is required on public buses and appreciated on private ones. Check with cruise personnel or your hotel for current fares. Buses pass along main roads about every 20 minutes and are usually packed. Stops are marked by small signs on roadside poles that say “To City” or “Out of City,” meaning the direction relative to Bridgetown. Flag down the bus with your hand, even if you’re standing at the stop. In Bridgetown, terminals are at Fairchild Street for buses to the south and east and at Lower Green for buses to Speightstown via the west coast.

By Car:
A network of main highways facilitates traffic flow into and out of Bridgetown; the Adams-Barrow-Cummins (ABC) Highway bypasses Bridgetown, which saves time getting from coast to coast. Although small signs tacked to trees and poles at intersections point the way to most attractions, be sure to study a map.

Car Rentals:
Nearly 30 agencies rent cars, Jeeps, or small open-air vehicles. Check to see if the car has AC, if that is a priority for you. Also check liability insurance. The rental generally includes insurance. There are gas stations in Bridgetown, on the main highways along the west and south coasts, and in most inland parishes.

Requirements:
To rent a car you must have an international driver’s license or Barbados driving permit, obtainable at the airport, police stations, and major car-rental firms for $5 with a valid driver’s license.

Road Conditions:
Remote roads are in fairly good repair, yet few are well lighted at night — and night falls quickly, at about 6 pm year round. Even in full daylight, the tall sugarcane fields lining both sides of the road in interior sections can make visibility difficult. Pedestrians and an occasional sheep often walk in the roads. When someone flashes a car’s headlights at you at an intersection, it means “after you.”

Rules of the Road:
The speed limit is 30 mph in the country, 20 mph in town. Park only in approved parking areas. Remember to drive on the left.

Churches:
The history of the churches in Barbados gives insight into the past and present. A brief account of each major faith tradition in Barbados is followed by times of weekly worship services.

Roman Catholic
The Roman Catholic church was initially rejected by the Protestant plantation owners in Barbados, and did not become accepted there until after the abolition of slavery in 1838. The following year, a military garrison (the Connaught Rangers) requested and received a Catholic chaplain. This led to increased numbers of local people joining the Roman Catholic Church. Today, Catholics make up approximately four percent of church goers and there are 5 Roman Catholic Churches in Barbados.

Our Lady Queen of The Universe
Black Rock, St.Michael
Sunday 6:30am,8:30am

Our Lady of Sorrow
Ashton Hall, St.Peter
Sunday 9:00am

St.Dominic’s
Maxwell Main Road, Christ Church
Sunday 7:30am,10:00am
Saturday 6:30pm

St.Francis of Assisi
Mount Steadfast, St.James
Sunday 8:00am,10:30am

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Corner Bay St.& Jemmonts Lane, St.Michael
Sunday 7:00am,8:30am,6:00pm
Saturday 6:00pm

Anglican:
The Anglican was the first official religion in Barbados. Today it accounts for 33% of church going members, down from 90% reported in an 1871 survey. Slaves were forbidden membership by the original plantation owners, who were concerned that the church might undermine their authority over the workers. With the abolition of slavery in 1838 many ex-slaves joined the Anglican church. Bishop William Hart Coleridge, the first Anglican Bishop, did much to extend the church’s influence by building ten chapels in the rural areas. His work, which began in 1825 and lasted to 1842, also led to the development of 11 chapel schools and the St. Mary Church in Bridgetown.

All Saints Parish Church
Pleasant Hall, St.Peter
Sunday 8:00am

St.Andrew’s Parish Church
The Rectory, St.Andrew
Sunday 8:00am

St.Anne’s Church
Parris Hill, St.Joseph
Sunday 9:00am , 5:00pm

St.Cyprian’s Church
George Street, St.Michael
Sunday 7:00am, 9:00am, 6:00pm

St.David’s Church
Christ Church
Sunday 6:15am, 7:30am

St.James Parish Church
Holetown,St.James
Sunday 7:30am,9:00am

St.John’s Parish Church
Sunday 7:00am,9:00am

St.Lawrence Church
St.Lawrence Gap, Christ Church
Sunday 8:00am,9:30am,6:30pm

St.Leonard’s Church
St.Leonards, St.Michael
Sunday 7:15am,9:35am,5:30pm

St.Lucy’s Church
Sunday 8:00am
St.Mary’s Church
Bridgetown,St.Michael
Sunday 7:00am,8:30am,6:00pm

St.Matthias Church
Hastings, Christ Church
Sunday 7:00am,8:30am,6:00pm

St.Matthias Church
Hastings, Christ Church
Wednesday 6:30am,8:30am

St.Michael’s Cathedral
Bridgetown, St.Michael
Sunday 6:30am,7:45am,9:00am,11:00am,6:00pm

St.Peter’s Parish Church
Sunday 7:30am, 9:15am

St.Paul Anglican Chursh
Bay Street, St.Michael
Sunday 8:30am

St.Stephen’s Church
Black Rock, St.Michael
Sunday 7:00am,8:30am,6:30pm

Jewish
About 300 Jewish people of Recife, Brazil, persecuted by the Dutch, settled in Barbados in the 1660’s. Skilled in the sugar industry, they quickly introduced the crop and passed on their skills in cultivation and production to the Barbados land owners. With their help Barbados went on to become one of the world’s major sugar producers. There is currently one synagogue situated in Bridgetown. Built in the 17th century (1654) it was destroyed by hurricane in 1831, was rebuilt, fell into disrepair and was sold in 1929. In 1983, it was bought back by the Jewish community and was restored to its present state with its beautiful Gothic arches, and is now a Barbados National Trust protected building and an active synagogue.

Shaare Tzedek Synagogue
Rockley New Road, Christ Church
Friday 7:30pm

Seventh Day Adventist
King’s Street SDA
King’s Street Saturday 11:00am ; Sunday 6:00pm ; Wednesday 7:15pm

The Eastlyn SDA
Cane Hill Rd, Eastlyn, St.George
Saturday 9:00am,4:15pm ; Sunday 6:30pm ; Wednesday 7:15pm

Methodist
The Methodists arrived in Barbados in 1789, intent on Christianizing the slave population. However, their early efforts were unsuccessful and 20 years later they had only 30 converts. The plantation owners were suspicious of the anti-slavery stance of the Methodists and constantly persecuted the church. Methodist meeting houses were pelted with stones and their meetings were often interrupted. The planters’ hatred led to an angry mob tearing down the Methodist chapel in James Street, Bridgetown in 1823. In addition there were several (unsuccessful) attempts to outlaw Methodism in Barbados. The burning of the James Street Church may have been the turning point. After that their membership steadily grew and reached over 5,000 by 1848 .

Hawthorne Methodist Church
Hawthorne, Christ Church
Sunday 9:00am, 5:00pm

James Street Methodist Church
James Street, Bridgetown
Sunday 9:00am, 5:00pm

Quaker
The Quakers were one of the first churches to encourage slaves to join them. This so angered the Plantation owners that it resulted in the legislation of 1676 that made it illegal for blacks to attend a Quaker meeting. One of the original Quaker Churches in Speightstown is currently being rebuilt and restored to its traditional simple elegance.

Moravian
The Moravians arrived in Barbados from Germany in 1765 with plans to Christianize and educate the entire slave population. The Moravians were the first missionaries to allow slaves in their congregation. For the first twenty-five years they made little progress and in 1790 the number of conversions was only 40. The building of the historic Sharon Moravian Church in 1799 seemed to help their cause and by 1812 Sharon alone had a congregation of over two hundred. Today the Moravians exist in Barbados as a flourishing religious denomination.

Calvary Moravian Church
Roebuck Street,Bridgetown
Sunday 9:00am

Sharon Moravian Church
St.Thomas Sunday 9:00am

Bethlehem Moravian Church
Maxwell, Christ Church
Sunday 10:00am

Mt. Tabor Moravian Church
St.John (next to Villa Nova)
Sunday 9:30am

Spiritual Baptist
The Spiritual Baptist Church is indigenous to Barbados. It was founded in 1957 by Archbishop Granville Williams and its congregation has since swelled to over 10,000. Members of the Spiritual Baptist Church tie brightly colored cloth around their heads. New members are baptized by immersion in the clear, coastal waters of Barbados. The Spiritual Baptist Church has a strong African influence and its services involve much dancing and singing.

Rastafarian
Rastafarianism was introduced to Barbados in 1975 as an offshoot of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica. The Rastafarian movement began with the teachings of Marcus Garvey who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the 1920’s. He called for self reliance “at home and abroad” and advocated a “back to Africa” consciousness, awakening black pride and denouncing the British colonial indoctrination that caused blacks to feel shame for their African heritage.

Rastafarians live a peaceful life, needing few material possessions and devote much time to contemplating the scriptures. They reject the white man’s world, as the “new age Babylon of greed and dishonesty.” Proud and confident Rastas stand up for their rights, their hair long, knotted in dreadlocks in the image of the lion of Judah. The movement spread quickly in Barbados and was attractive to the local black youths, many of whom saw it as an extension of their adolescent rebellion from school and parental authority. However, all true Rastas signify peace and pride and righteousness.

Muslim Services
Islamic Teaching Centre
Harts Gap, Hastings, Christ Church
Friday 12:30pm

Juma Mosque
Kensington New Road, Bridgetown
Daily 5 services.
Friday Special service – 12:30pm

Jehovah Witness
The Jehovah Witness community has grown steadily in Barbados over the past years.

Kingdom Hall
Fontabelle, Bridgetown
Sunday 9:00am.

Mormon
Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints
Rendezvous
Sunday 10:00am

Pentecostal
Mount Carmel Pentecostal
St.Patrick’s, Christ Church
Sunday 10:30am,6:30pm

Other Religions
As a result of dissatisfaction with established religions, many groups broke away to form their own religious factions. Some of these groups then divided further, forming new sects. This has led to the large number the large number of sects in Barbados today. Examples of such groups are: the Wesleyan Holiness, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Ebeneezer Revival Centre, Berean Bible Baptist Church, and Unity of Barbados.

 

C – Attractions & Things To Do

bridgetown attractions

Parishes or Sections of Barbados:
1. St. Lucy (at the northern tip)
2. St. Peter (just south of St. Lucy)
3. St. Andrew (northeast coast)
4. St. James (Midwest)
5. St. Thomas (east of St. James in central part)
6. St. Joseph (mideast)
7. St. John (south of St. Joseph)
8. St. George (south central)
9. St. Michael (southwest) (contains Bridgetown)
10. Christ Church (southwest tip)
11. St. Philip (southeast tip)

The terrain of the island’s 11 parishes changes dramatically from one to the next, and so does the pace and ambience. Bridgetown, the capital, is a sophisticated city. Luxurious west coast resorts and private homes are a sharp contrast to the small villages and large sugar plantations found throughout central Barbados. The heavy Atlantic surf crashing against the cliffs of the east coast is far different than the calm Carribean that laps against the white and pink sandy beaches of the west. The northeast is called “Scotland” because of its hilly landscape.

Andromeda Gardens:
Bathsheba, St. Joseph
246/433-9384
Daily 9-5
A collection of unusual and beautiful plant specimens from around the world is cultivated in 6 acres of gardens nestled among streams, ponds, and rocky outcroppings overlooking the sea above the Bathsheba coastline. The gardens were created in 1954 by the late horticulturist Iris Bannochie. They are now administered by the Barbados National Trust. The Hibiscus Café serves snacks and drinks.

Animal Flower Cave:
North Point, St. Lucy
246/439-8797
Daily 9-4
Small sea anemones, or sea worms, resemble jewel-like flowers when they open their tiny tentacles. They live in small pools, some of which are large enough to swim in, in this cave at the island’s very northern tip. The view of breaking waves from inside the cave is outstanding.

Barbados Museum:
Hwy. 7, Garrison Savannah, St. Michael
246/427-0201
Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 2-6.
This museum, in the former British Military Prison (1815) in the historic Garrison area, has artifacts from Arawak days (around 400 BC) and galleries that depict 19th-century military history and everyday life. Exhibits include cane-harvesting tools, wedding dresses, and ancient dentistry instruments. There is also the grim legacy of slave sale accounts kept in a spidery copperplate handwriting. In addition there are wildlife and natural history exhibits, an art gallery, a children’s gallery, a gift shop, and a café.

Emancipation Memorial:
St. Barnabas Roundabout (intersection of ABC Hwy. and Hwy. 5), St. Michael.
This statue of a slave is commonly referred to as the Bussa Statue. Bussa was the man who, in the early part of the 19th century, led the first slave rebellion in Barbados. The statue overlooks a broad sugarcane field just outside Bridgetown.

Flower Forest:
Richmond Plantation, Hwy. 2, St. Joseph
246/433-8152
Admission charged.
Daily 9-5.
A perfect way to spend a warm day is to walk in this cool garden among fragrant flowering bushes, canna and ginger lilies, puffball trees, and more than 100 other species of tropical flora. A 1/2-mi-long path winds through the 50 acres of grounds, which is a former sugar plantation. There are a snack bar, a gift shop, and a beautiful view of Mt. Hillaby.

Gun Hill Signal Station:
St. George
246/429-1358
Admission charged.
Mon.-Sat. 9-5.
The 360 degree view from Gun Hill, 700 ft above sea level, was what made this location of strategic importance to the 18th-century British army. The garrison captain, Henry Wilkinson, whiled away his off-duty hours by carving a huge lion from a single rock. It is on the hillside just below the tower. Come for a short history lesson but mainly for the spectacular view.

Harrison’s Cave:
Hwy. 2, St. Thomas
246/438-6640.
Daily 9-6; last tour at 4.
This limestone cavern, complete with stalactites, stalagmites, subterranean streams, and a 40-ft waterfall, is a rare find in the Caribbean : and one of Barbados’s most popular attractions. The one-hour tours are on electric trams, which fill up fast. Reserve ahead of time.

National Heroes Square:
Renamed in 1999 (formerly Trafalgar Square), this square lies between the Parliament Buildings and the Careenage and marks the center of town. Its monument to Lord Horatio Nelson predates Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square by 27 years. Also in the square is a fountain that commemorates the 1865 arrival of running water in Barbados.

St. Nicholas Abbey:
Near Cherry Tree Hill, St. Lucy
246/422-8725
Weekdays 10-3:30
The island’s oldest great house (circa 1650), made of stone and wood, is one of only three original Jacobean-style houses still standing in the Western Hemisphere. St. Nicholas, (which has no religious connections), has Dutch gables, finials of coral stone, and beautiful grounds. The first floor, fully furnished with period furniture, is open to the public. The Calabash Café, in the rear, serves snacks, lunch, and afternoon tea.

Errol Barrow Park:
A community park located in the parish of St. Michael, was opened on 28th November, 1987 in memory of the late Errol Walton Barrow, former prime minister of Barbados.

Sam Lord’s Castle:
Long Bay, St. Philip
246/423-7350
Daily 10-4.
This Regency house built by the buccaneer Sam Lord is considered one of the island’s finest mansions. Built in 1820 and now the centerpiece of a resort, the opulent structure features double verandas on all sides and magnificent plaster ceilings created by Charles Rutter, who also crafted some of the ceilings in England’s Windsor Castle. Rooms are furnished with fine mahogany furniture and gilt mirrors that Sam Lord is reputed to have pillaged from passing ships.

Sunbury Plantation House & Museum:
Off Hwy. 5, near Six Cross Roads, St. Philip
246/423-6270
Admission charged. Lunch extra.
Daily 10-5.
Rebuilt after a 1995 fire destroyed everything but the thick flint-and-stone walls of this 300-year-old plantation house, Sunbury offers a glimpse of the 18th and 19th centuries on a Barbadian sugar estate. Period furniture, old prints, and a collection of horse-drawn carriages have been donated to lend authenticity. Luncheon is served in the back garden.

Francia Plantation:
St. George, Barbados
246/429-0474
Mon-Fri 10am-4pm
Admission charged
You can enter the park for free if you’re walking but it costs a small amount to bring a car in.
daily 8:30am to 6pm.
The Francia Plantation stands on a wooded hillside overlooking the St. George Valley and is still owned and occupied by descendants of the original owner. Built in 1913, the house blends both West Indian and European architectural influences. You can explore several rooms, including the dining room with its family silver and an 18th-century James McCabe bracket clock. On the walls are antique maps and prints, including a map of the West Indies printed in 1522.

Heritage Park & Rum Factory:
Foursquare Plantation, St. Philip
246/420-1977
Daily 9am-5pm
Admission charged
After driving through cane fields, you’ll arrive at the first rum distillery to be launched on the island since the 19th century. Inaugurated in 1996, this factory is located on a former molasses and sugar plantation dating back 350 years. Produced on site is ESA Field, a white rum praised by connoisseurs. Adjacent is an admission-free park where Barbadian handcrafts are displayed in the Art Foundry. There is also an array of shops and carts selling food, handcrafts, and other products.

Sunbury Plantation House:
6 Cross Rd., St. Philip
246/423-6270
Daily 10am-5pm
Admission charged
This is the only mansion on Barbados where all the rooms are open for viewing. The 300 year old plantation house is steeped in history, featuring mahogany antiques, old prints, and a unique collection of horse-drawn carriages.

Barbados Wildlife:
Animals found in Barbados include the green monkey, the mongoose, eight species of bat, the rarely seen European hare, red-footed tortoise, three species of lizards, whistling frogs and toads. Barbados is also a haven for many turtles, including the Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project monitors nesting and hatching activity during the turtle season. Barbados is home to over a hundred different bird species, mainly migrant species (including ducks, falcons, sandpipers, warblers and terns). About 20 bird species actually reside in Barbados (these include doves, pigeons, herons, egrets, hummingbirds and finches). Many of the birds seen in Barbados are water birds and can be seen in the marine/wetland areas of the island, such as the Graeme Hall Swamp.

The Graeme Hall Swamp
Located in the parish of Christ Church, it is the largest expanse of inland water in Barbados. The Swamp’s Mangrove trees provide a natural habitat for several local species of birds. In addition the swamp is also a temporary home for a large number of migrant and wintering water and shore birds. There are several species of uncommon plants in the swamp including the button creeper (with pink stems and white flowers) and sedges, tall plants that grow to over 3 feet in height.

The Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP)
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP) was started in 1987 to promote conservation of sea turtles in Barbados. It is a joint activity of the Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and the Fisheries Division of the Government of Barbados. The BSTP relies upon the co-operation of the general public, particularly hotel staff and guests, and other persons living and working near the beach, to monitor nesting and hatching activity during the turtle season (April – December).

Farley Hill National Park:
What used to be one of the greatest houses of Barbados, Farley Hill, is a mansion in ruins. Surrounding it is Farley Hill National Park. The park lies in the north of the parish of St. Peter, directly across the road leading into the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. You can wander in the park overlooking the turbulent waters of the Atlantic, and bring a picnic.

Barbados Wildlife Reserve:
Farley Hill, St. Peter
246/422-8826
Daily 10am-5pm
Admission charged.
Across the road from Farley Hill National Park, in northern St. Peter Parish, the preserve is set in a mahogany forest that’s maintained by the Barbados Primate Research Center. Visitors can stroll through what is primarily a monkey sanctuary and an arboretum. Besides the uncaged monkeys, you can see wild hares, deer, tortoises, otters, wallabies (which were brought into Barbados), and a variety of tropical birds.

Welchman Hall Gully:
Welchman Hall, St. Thomas
246/438-6671
Daily 9am-5pm
Take Hwy. 2 from Bridgetown
Admission charged
This lush, tropical garden is owned by the Barbados National Trust. It contains specimens of plants that were native to Barbados when the English settlers landed in 1627. Many of the plants are labeled (clove, nutmeg, tree fern, and cocoa, among others) and there is an occasional wild monkey. The breadfruit trees are said to be descendants of the seedlings brought ashore by Captain Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame.

Chattel Homes:
The Chattel House was the original design of the plantation worker’s home. They were modest wooden buildings set on blocks so that they could be easily moved from one leaseholding to another. The name chattel referred to the fact that they were movable property. The steep gable roof, constructed of corrugated iron, were utilized to suit the climate of heavy rains and winds. The roof angle deflects the wind rather than providing a platform for it to lift off. The trim and overhang around the windows and openings were placed there to provide shade and a filter against the rain. Many chattel homes have distinctive jalousie windows, with three sets of hinges: Two vertical and one horizontal, that allows maximum flexibility against the wind and sun.

Tyrol Cot Heritage Village:
Codrington Hill, St. Michael
246/424-2074
246/425-7777 for restaurant reservations
Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Admission charged
Sir Grantley Adams, the leader of the Bajan movement for independence from Britain, once made his home here. His wife, Lady Adams, lived in the house until her death in 1990. In years passed it took a highly prized invitation to visit, but it is now open to all. The house was built sometime in the mid-1850s from coral stone in a Palladian style. The grounds have been turned into a museum of Bajan life, including small chattel houses where potters and artists work. The museum attracts mainly those with a genuine interest in Bajan culture; it may not be for the average visitor intent on getting to the beach on time. The Old Stables Restaurant is located in the former stables and serves meals until 4pm. Reservations are recommended for the Friday buffet.

Beaches

Bajan beaches have fine, white sand, and all are open to the public. Most have access from the road, so non guest beach goers don’t have to pass through hotel properties.

Accra Beach
Near this popular beach in Rockley there are plenty of places to enjoy a meal or have a drink. Shops rent equipment for snorkeling and other water sports, and there’s a parking lot.

Bathsheba Soup Bowl
The rolling surf on Tent Bay attracts surfers (it’s the site of the Independence Classic Surfing Championships each November)

Barclays Park
Along the Ermy Bourne Highway, Barclays Park has a beachfront where you can dip, wade, and play in tide pools. There’s a shaded picnic area across the road.

Bottom Bay
The cove north of Sam Lord’s Castle is outstanding. Follow the steps down the cliff to a strip of white sand lined by coconut palms and washed by an aquamarine sea. It’s out of the way and not near restaurants, so bring a picnic lunch.

Brighton Beach
Just north of Bridgetown, Brighton Beach is large, open, and convenient to the port. Locals often take quick swims here on hot days.

Casuarina Beach
Located at the east end of the St. Lawrence Gap area, this beach always has a nice breeze and a good amount of surf. Public access is from Maxwell Coast Road. Refreshments are available at the Casuarina Beach Hotel.

Crane Beach
This picturesque beach of pink sand is protected by steep cliffs. There’s a lifeguard on duty, but the water can be rough. The rolling surf is great for body-surfing if you’re an experienced swimmer. Lunch and changing rooms are available at the Crane Beach Hotel.

Mullins Beach
This beach, just south of Speightstown at Mullins Bay, is a good place to spend the day. The calm water is safe for swimming and snorkeling, there’s easy parking on the main road, and Mullins Beach Bar (246/422-1878) serves snacks, meals and drinks.

Needham’s Point
Needham’s Point and its lighthouse are at the south end of Carlisle Bay. One of the best beaches, it’s crowded with locals on weekends and holidays. The Carlisle Bay Centre has changing rooms and showers to accommodate cruise ship passengers spending a day at the beach.

Paynes Bay
south of Holetown, is lined with luxury hotels. It’s a very pretty area, with plenty of beach to go around and good snorkeling. Refreshments are plentiful at Bombas Beach Bar (246/432-0569).

Sandy Beach
In Worthing, next to the Sandy Beach Island Resort, this beach has shallow, calm waters and a picturesque lagoon, making it an ideal location for families.

Silver Sands Beach
Close to the southernmost tip of the island, this beautiful strand of white sand always has a stiff breeze, which attracts intermediate and advanced windsurfers.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling:
There are more than two dozen dive sites along the west coast between Maycocks Bay and Bridgetown and off the south coast as far as the St. Lawrence Gap. The calm waters along the west coast are also ideal for snorkeling. The marine reserve, a stretch of protected reef between Sandy Lane and the Colony Club, contains beautiful coral formations accessible from the beach.

Bell Buoy
On the west coast, Bell Buoy is a large dome-shape reef where huge brown coral tree forests and schools of fish delight all categories of divers at depths ranging from 20 to 60 ft.

Bright Ledge And Maycocks Bay
On the northwest coast, these beautiful sites have large coral reefs separated by corridors of white sand, and visibility is often 100 ft or more.

Dottins Reef
You’ll see schooling fish, barracudas, and turtles at depths of 40-60 ft, at this reef off Holetown.

Silver Bank
This healthy coral reef has beautiful fish and sea fans you may get a glimpse of the Atlantis submarine at 60-80 ft.

Carlisle Bay
Just below Bridgetown is a natural harbor and marine park where you can retrieve empty bottles thrown overboard by generations of sailors and see cannons and cannonballs, anchors, and shipwrecks lying in 25-40 ft of water.

Eilon
Sunk in 1996, this freighter confiscated for drug running sits in 60 ft of water in Carlisle Bay near three earlier wrecks.

Dive shops provide a two-hour beginner’s “resort” course or a weeklong certification course (followed by a shallow dive.) Snorkelers can usually accompany dive trips for a one- or two-hour trip.

Dive Boat Safari
Grand Barbados Beach Resort
Needham’s Point, Bridgetown, St. Michael
246/427-4350
This dive operator on the south coast offers full dives and instruction.

Dive Shop, Ltd.
Aquatic Gap, St. Michael
246/426-9947; 800/693-3483 in the U.S.;
888/575-3483 in Canada
The Dive Shop, Ltd. is the island’s oldest dive shop.

Hightide Watersports
Coral Reef Club
Holetown, St. James
246/432-0931 or 800/513-5763
Available here are one- and two-tank dives, night reef/wreck/drift dives, the full range of PADI instruction, and free transportation.

West Side Scuba Centre
Sunset Crest Beach Club
Baku Beach, Holetown, St. James
246/432-2558
West Side Scuba Centre offers all levels of PADI instruction, reef and wreck dives, night dives, underwater video and camera rental, and free transportation.

Historic Churches:

Christ Church Parish Church
Above Oistins, Christ Church
Although the present church was built in 1935, it is the fourth on the site – the previous ones being destroyed by hurricane, fire or flood. The Church is best known for the famous Chase Vault, in which coffins mysteriously move around within the sealed vault. A detailed investigation in 1820 offered no explanation and the coffins were eventually buried separately and the vault sealed.

Sharon Moravian Church
Sharon, St.Thomas
Built in 1799, Sharon Moravian Church remains as one of the few eighteenth century edifices of Barbados unaltered by any modifications. The original church was destroyed in 1831 but was rebuilt two years later in the same style. The present church with its eighteenth century tower and windows represents the architecture of the Low Countries, the birthplace of Moravianism.

St.James Parish Church
Holetown, St.James
1847
St.James Parish Church is among the four oldest surviving churches in Barbados and is located near the site of the island’s first settlement in Holetown. In the southern porch of the church is a bell with the inscription – “God bless King William, 1696”. This bell pre-dates the famous American Liberty bell by 54 years. Main Features: mural tablets, stained glass windows.

St.John Parish Church
Near Hackleton’s Cliff, St.John
1836
This classic Gothic church was built to replace a previous structure which had been destroyed by hurricane in 1831. The chancel was added to the church in 1876. Main Features: Churchyard contains body of Ferdinand Paleologus (descendant of Constantine), Westmascott statue

St.Joseph Parish Church
Horse Hill, St.Joseph
1839
The first church was built before 1641 but was damaged by hurricane in 1789 and completely destroyed by another hurricane in 1831. At this time there was considerable dispute as to where the new church should be located. Thus, the present church was not built until 1839 at the present site, two miles uphill at the foot of Hackleton’s Cliff.

St.Lucy Parish Church
Near Sir Theodore Brancker roundabout, St.Lucy
1837
The first St.Lucy parish church was built of wood in 1627 and this was followed by a stone structure in 1741. The fourth (and present) church is an attractive building, constructed in 1837. It is essentially Georgian with the characteristic tower.

St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral
Bay Street, St.Michael
Date Built: 1899
The Cathedral was originally built in 1848 but was destroyed by fire in 1897. Arson was suspected at the time as a result of the attitude of the plantation owners (who were mainly Protestant) to the Roman Catholic Church. The new cathedral was completed in 1899 and consecrated on August 23, 1903.

St.Peter Parish Church
Speightstown, St.Peter
1837
St.Peter was one of the six original parishes and its first church was built in 1629. The second church was built 36 years later and a third church followed in 1837. This church was built in an essentially Georgian style but has a square bell tower.

Barbados: St.George Parish Church
The Glebe, St.George
Date Built: 1784
The hurricane of 1780 destroyed the first church built at this site. A new church was built four years later and this building survived to the present time, making it the oldest church building on the island. Main Features: architecture is less Gothic and more Georgian, magnificent altar painting The Resurrection; spectacular view of East Coast.

D – Family Fun Attractions

Andromeda Gardens:
Bathsheba, St. Joseph
246/433-9384
Daily 9-5
A fascinating collection of unusual and beautiful plant specimens from around the world is cultivated in 6 acres of gardens nestled among streams, ponds, and rocky outcroppings overlooking the sea above the Bathsheba coastline. The gardens were created in 1954 by the late horticulturist Iris Bannochie. They’re now administered by the Barbados National Trust. The Hibiscus Café serves snacks and drinks.

Animal Flower Cave:
North Point, St. Lucy
246/439-8797
Daily 9-4
Small sea anemones, or sea worms, resemble jewel-like flowers when they open their tiny tentacles. They live in small pools — some large enough to swim in — in this cave at the island’s very northern tip. The view of breaking waves from inside the cave is outstanding.

Barbados Museum:
Hwy. 7, Garrison Savannah, St. Michael
246/427-0201
Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 2-6
This museum, in the former British Military Prison (1815) in the historic Garrison area, has artifacts from Arawak days (around 400 BC) and galleries that depict 19th-century military history and everyday life. You’ll see cane-harvesting tools, wedding dresses, ancient dentistry instruments. There is also the grim legacy of slave sale accounts kept in a spidery copperplate handwriting. There are also a wildlife and natural history exhibits, an art gallery, a children’s gallery, a gift shop, and a café.

Emancipation Memorial:
St. Barnabas Roundabout, St. Michael
(Intersection of ABC Hwy. and Hwy. 5)
This statue of a slave is commonly referred to as the Bussa Statue. Bussa was the man who, in the early part of the 19th century, led the first slave rebellion in Barbados. The statue overlooks a broad sugarcane field just outside Bridgetown.

Flower Forest:
Richmond Plantation, Hwy. 2, St. Joseph
246/433-8152
Admission charged
Daily 9-5
It’s a treat to meander among fragrant flowering bushes, canna and ginger lilies, puffball trees, and more than 100 other species of tropical flora in a cool, tranquil setting. A 1/2-mi-long path winds through the 50 acres of grounds, a former sugar plantation. There are a snack bar, a gift shop, and a beautiful view of Mt. Hillaby.

E – Events & Entertainments

January:

Paint it Jazz festival
1st weekend after New Year’s for a week. There is cool jazz on warm Caribbean shores when Barbados hosts its annual “Paint It Jazz” festival The Caribbean’s premier musical event present s internationally acclaimed musicians such as acclaimed vocalist Chaka Khan, saxophonist Dave Koz, pianist/composer David Benoit and others. The festival, which celebrates the best in international and local jazz talent, has become a major annual Caribbean event.

African Renaissance Dance Festival
Mid-January
246/425-0940

Barbados Windsurfing World Cup

February:

Holetown Festival mid-February
(246)435-6264
The Holetown Festival commemorates the anniversary of the first settlement of Barbados at Holetown in February 1627. The week-long festival begins in mid-February with the opening celebrations taking place at the Holetown Monument. The festival highlights local arts and crafts as well as Barbadian culture and history. It include street fairs, the Royal Barbados Police Band Concert, a musical Festival in the historic Parish Church, and a Beauty Show.

March:

Holders Opera Season
opens mid-March

The Barbados Gold Cup (Sandy Lane)
The running of this prestigious event brings together top class horses from Barbados, Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago. The venue for this nine-furlong invitational race is the historic Garrison Savannah.

April:

Congaline Carnival
Begins late-April
(246)424-0909
De Congaline Carnival is a nine-day carnival. The Congaline Village is the heart and soul of De Congaline Carnival and provides a daily exhibition forum and marketplace for a myriad of free entertainment and local arts, crafts and culture. It is dubbed the “World’s Greatest Street Party” as it culminates in a one-day T-shirt band parade.

Barbados Polo Club Event
(246) 432-1802

Carifta Swimming Championships (246) 429-7946

International Deep Sea Tournament A Fisheries Week of Activities culminating on St.Peter’s Day. (St.Peter being the Patron Saint of all fishermen).

May:

Celtic Festival
Begins mid-May
(246)426-3387
An annual celebration of culture as Celtic people from around the world visit Barbados for their annual gymanfa-ganu and other events including sports.

International Rugby Sevens
(246)437-3836

Gospelfest
Begins last weekend in May.
(246)426-5940
The Barbados Gospelfest held for the first time in 1993 is scheduled for Whitsuntide weekend, the last weekend in May. It is an international festival and attracts major Gospel talent mainly from the USA, UK and the Caribbean. The festival targets the Christian communities across the globe and receives the support of the Gospel music industry in Barbados.

Carlisle Bay Water Festival
(246)228-5117
Seven different Water-sporting Associations converge on the beach in front of the Boat Yard to highlight their sport.

Banks International Masters Football Festival
(246)428-1182 or (246)435-6988
Over 35’s veterans football tournament.

The annual AquaSplash festival includes the Mount Gay Regatta

July:

Crop Over Festival
Begins mid-July
(246)424-0909
Crop Over, a five-week summer festival, is Barbados’ most popular and colorful festival. It’s origins can be traced back to the 1780’s, a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar. At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of another successful sugar cane harvest – the Crop Over celebration. As the sugar industry in Barbados declined, so too did the Crop Over festival and in the 1940’s the festival was terminated completely. However, the festival was revived in 1974 and other elements of Barbadian culture were infused to make the extravaganza that exists today ….. an event that attracts thousands of people from across the globe. It involves community participation in fairs, concerts, cart parades and other cultural activities with an integral component being the Calypso Competition and crowning of the Calypso Monarch.

Sir Garfield Sobers Cricket Tournament
(246)427-2623
Named after the renowned Barbadian cricketer, this tournament is now into its fifteenth season and attracts local, regional and international school teams under 19 years of age.

August:

Banks Hockey Festival
(246)426-7347
Open to men’s and women’s Field Hockey Clubs from around the world. Event’s venue now boasts a new Astroturf.

Caribbean Amateur Golf Championship
(246)428-8022

Barbados Secondary Schools International Soccer Tournament

October:

Pan In Paradise
(246)424-6830
International steelband competition for juniors. Groups expected from UK, Holland, Switzerland, Japan, Florida and the Caribbean.

Public Schools Caribbean Rugby Tournament
(246)426-3387
Under 19 & Public Schools Band Festival. Schools are invited from USA, South Africa, Canada and UK.

November:

NIFCA Festival (National Independence Festival of Creative Arts)
(246)424-0909
November 30th is celebrated as Independence Day and is a national holiday in Barbados. The day begins with an elaborate and impressive parade and ceremony at the Garrison Savannah. However, celebrations run throughout November and include sports competitions, fairs, community events, and religious services. One of the highlights of the Independence celebrations is the decorative lighting of Parliament Buildings and businesses throughout the capital Bridgetown, using blue and gold colored bulbs (the national colours). Roundabouts on the highways are also lighted, creating a spectacular view at night. A highlight of the independence celebrations is the (NIFCA) which showcases the artistic talents of Barbadians. This festival encourages Barbadians of all ages to match their talents in the fields of music, singing, dance, drama, writing, fine art, photography and arts and crafts. The festival runs throughout the month of November and culminates with a gala presentation in which the finalists are featured.

Regional Cricket Series
(246)436-1397

Independence Pro Surfing Championship & Banks Pro Long Board Classic
At the Soup Bowl, Bathsheba.
(246) 228-5117
Surfers from East Coast USA, Caribbean and Puerto Rico.

Sir Garfield Sobers Senior Cricket Festival
(246)427-2623
This tournament, named after the renowned Barbados cricketer, is in its sixth year.

Golf Championship
For more information contact the Barbados Golf Association.

December:

Run Barbados 10k & Marathon Series
This series comprises a 10K and Marathon and attracts international runners. There is also a walk.

Each year in the middle of December
Trucks are dressed-up with lights and Christmas decorations and form a parade through the streets of Bridgetown and the outskirts of the city. Hundreds of Barbadians line the route, especially little children, to watch the parade and to be greeted by Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, and their favourite cartoon characters – some of whom dispense a few treats along the way! The trucks are sponsored by local companies, with Virgin Atlantic airways playing a major role in 2000. Some trucks feature choirs singing Christmas carols while others play recorded songs of the season.

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Grand Bahama Island – Freeport Travel Guide – Deals

Quick Links:

A – Overview

B – City information

C – Attractions & Things To Do

D – Family Fun Attractions

E – Grand Bahama Island Travel Deals

A – Overview

Golf, shopping, casinos, exciting nightlife, hiking in a nature preserve, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and swimming with dolphins are all features of Freeport and Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island. The emerald green, crystal clear water and sugar white beaches are not only beautiful, but are also ideal for the whole spectrum of activities.

grand bahama island overview

Grand Bahama Island lies just 50 miles east of Florida and is a major tourist destination. The fourth largest island in the Bahamas group, Grand Bahama covers more than 530 square miles. The island has four 18 hole golf courses, one 9 hole course, and more than 30 tennis courts. Grand Bahama Island’s hotels and casinos are of a caliber that has earned them the title of “New World Riviera.”

The momentum of today’s thriving industries on Grand Bahama Island began in the 1950s when the cities of Freeport and Lucaya were developed specifically as resort areas. Since that time, visitors have been at the center of island life. They are welcomed and entertained with genuine warmth and hospitality.

Guests can play water volleyball in an over-sized swimming pool, soak in a hot Jacuzzi or sip an island cocktail at the poolside Tiki Bar while the children are at their own on-site playground. There are two casinos, dozens of bars and restaurants, and facilities where fishing boats can be chartered and jet skis and scuba gear rented. Freeport and Lucaya are the embodiment of tropical entertainment.

The island of Grand Bahama stretches nearly one hundred miles from east to west, but is only 17 miles across at its widest point.

Downtown Freeport, with its wide boulevards, called “dual carriageways,” revolves around the Moorish dome of the Princess Casino, right off the busy roundabout called Ranfurly Circus. Nearby, the International Bazaar is an extensive collection of boutiques with an international theme.

Grand Bahama Island is an ecological wonder with nature preserves and trails to explore. Its endless beaches, charming fishing villages and fascinating marine life are just some of the island’s attractions that make this a tropical paradise and a unique vacation destination.

B – City information

Population: 46,954

Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time. Daylight saving time is observed from October to April. When it is 12:00 noon on Grand Bahama Island, it is 12:00 noon in New York City and 9:00 AM in Los Angeles.

Average Temperatures:

Month

Average

January

71F

February

71F

March

73F

April

75F

May

78F

June

81F

July

82F

August

83F

September

82F

October

79F

November

76F

December

73F

Local Seasons: Grand Bahama Island lies below the Tropic of Cancer and enjoys a mild climate throughout the year. The main season runs from mid-December through mid-April. The rainy and hurricane season occurs from June through November. During that time period there are many days and weeks of cloudless, sunny weather with intermittent showers. Hurricanes are rare, but do occur in some years.

National Holidays:

New Year’s Day Jan. 1

Good Friday (Dates vary)

Easter Monday (Dates vary)

Whit Monday last Mon. in May

Independence Day July 10

Emancipation Day August 2

Labour Day 1st Mon. in Sept.

Discovery Day October 12

Thanksgiving Day 4th Thurs. in Nov.

Christmas Day Dec. 25

Boxing Day December 26

New Year’s Eve Dec. 31

Area Code: The area code for the Bahamas is 242.

Before You Go:

Entry Requirements And Customs:
Valid photo I.D. (driver’s license is fine) AND a government-issued birth certificate (not hospital-issued) with a raised seal, or a valid Passport. Passports are not required for entry by US or Canadian citizens, but It is a good idea to bring one.

Non-US citizens, please contact the nearest consulate or embassy of the country to which you are traveling to determine your entry/visa requirements.

Upon arrival in The Bahamas, you will be given an Immigration Card to complete and sign. The Bahamian customs official will stamp the card and return it to you. Be sure to keep the card in a safe place, because you will need to turn it in upon departure from The Bahamas.

Visitors leaving The Bahamas for US destinations clear US Customs and Immigration before departure. US citizens are allowed to bring back $600 worth of merchandise duty-free. Above that, you will be charged a flat rate of 10% duty on the next $1000 worth of purchases. Be sure to save all of your merchandise receipts.

Departure tax, which is not included in this package, is $15 in US or Bahamian dollars, payable at the airport when leaving The Bahamas.
Language:
Bahamians speak English with an accent influenced by their Scottish, Irish and/or African ancestry.

Currency:
Currency is the Bahamian Dollar (B$1), which is on par with the US Dollar (B$1=US$1). Both types of currency are accepted everywhere in The Bahamas.
24hour ATMs are widely available in The Bahamas and major international credit cards are accepted in most places.
Traveler’s Checks are accepted at most large hotels and stores, but you may have trouble cashing them at local boutiques and restaurants.
Tipping for service is usually 15%, although some hotels and restaurants automatically add a gratuity to the bill.
Local Transportation:
It is not necessary to rent a car in The Bahamas, but car rental counters are located outside baggage claim at Nassau and Freeport Airports. National chains and local companies are available, but It is best to stick with the recognizable companies. Rentals may be reserved in advance by calling Avis or other company, and may also be booked through many hotels on the island.
Be sure to closely examine your rental car before exiting the airport, because you may be charged for any damages, even if they were present at the time of rental.
Bahamians drive on the LEFT! This can be a bit confusing because most cars are American, with the steering wheel on the left (see your local mail carrier for advice!).
Taxis are widely available at airports, hotels and business areas.
Cabs can also be hired by the hour. Be sure to agree on a fare before you get in.
Buses are called Jitneys in Nassau and Freeport, and they provide an inexpensive way to get around. Buses stop near most hotels and exact change of 75 cents or $1 is required.

Electricity:
120 volts/60 cycles. This is compatible with the US.

Health & Safety:
Just as you would when traveling to an unfamiliar area, consult any major guidebook or check with your hotel about any areas to avoid or precautions to take, and use common sense.

Most hotels offer a safe for your valuables, but the safest option is always to leave any treasured valuables like expensive jewelry at home.

The Caribbean sunshine is very strong, so bring plenty of sun block and enjoy!

Getting There

By Private Boat: Grand Bahama Island is located 50 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida. The Island is 96 miles long and 17 miles across at its widest point. Port Lucaya Marina is just a short half-day trip from South Florida for most motor-cruisers.

Let your GPS’s navigation help you to find your way to this yachting paradise.

Lucayan Marina Village – 150 slips, Port Lucaya Marina – 80 slips

Xanadu Marina: 72 slips

Ocean Reef Yacht Club: 55 slips, are available to pleasure boaters.

By Cruise Ship:


Over 20 cruise lines have regularly scheduled excursions to Freeport.

By Air:
Flight is the primary mode of travel for the majority of visitors to the islands. Don’t miss the spectacular views during your approach and departure to and from The Bahamas.

The Grand Bahama International Airport is open from 6:00 AM- 10:00 PM daily.

Flights arrive daily from Nassau as well as South Florida, via Bahamasair, American Eagle, Gulf Stream/Continental Connection; AirTran Airways and Delta Connection daily from Atlanta; and Continental Express weekly from Newark, NJ. US Airways provides daily non-stop jet service from Charlotte, NC, and Saturday only non-stops from Philadelphia and LaGuardia. AirTran has daily non-stop flights from Baltimore.

Grand Bahama Vacations: Daily service from: Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Twice weekly flights from: Baltimore-Cincinnati-Cleveland-Hartford-Pittsburgh-Raleigh-Richmond.

Freeport Harbor

In addition to air service facilities, Freeport Harbor offers docking facilities for large ships. One of the deepest harbors in the region, it is undergoing a $10.9 million redevelopment program including new cruise passenger terminal facilities and a 25,000 sq. ft. landscaped retail village.

Exploring the many towns and villages of Grand Bahama Island

West End

located on the western tip of the island, is the oldest city on Grand Bahama Island. This picturesque fishing village is probably best known for its history as a liquor smuggling town during the prohibition.
Deadman’s Reef is the home of Paradise Cove, where one can swim out to some of the best snorkeling reefs. A recent archaeological dig along the eroding beach front unearthed many artifacts belonging to the Lucayan Indians: hearths, animal bones, pottery pieces, and shell beads. One of the most important Lucayan archaeological sites discovered to date, it has been dated at around 1200-1300 AD.

Eight Mile Rock

is the largest settlement on Grand Bahama Island, outside of Freeport/Lucaya. The town is actually a string of settlements, joined together, and is named after the 8 miles of solid rock contained here. The towns, from the west, include: Martin Hill, Jones Town, Rocky Shore, Martin Town, Pinedale, Hanna Hill, Bartlett Hill, Wildgoose, and Hepburn Town.

Hawksbill is a residential area, created mainly to house the workers employed in Freeport/ Lucaya. It is located on Hawksbill Creek, the name of The Hawksbill Creek Agreement that paved the way for the creation of Freeport/ Lucaya.

Pinder’s Point is four connected villages (Pinder’s Point, Lewis Yard, Hunter’s and Mack Town). Pinder’s Point, the more developed of the group, can trace its roots back to a white settler and his slaves. The town has been slow to adopt the fast lane culture that came with the tourist trade, even though it lies just minutes outside of Freeport/ Lucaya.

Freeport/Lucaya, the capital of Grand Bahama, and the second largest city in the Islands of The Bahamas. The city was built expressly for tropical fun. It is the site of many of the tourist beaches and activities, as well as the International Bazaar and Marketplace.

Williams Town and Russell Town are two small villages south of Freeport, named for the families that still occupy them. Williams Town was founded by Joseph Williams, a freed slave, and some of his descendants still live there on what is called “generation land.”

Smith’s Point is named after the Scotsman, Michael Smith, who served in the early 1800s as Commissioner of the island. Instead of money, he was given 400 acres of land, part of which one of his sons sold to the Grand Bahama Development Company.

Mather Town

lies next to Smith’s Point (see above), just across a small channel. The quaint houses in this tiny village provide a striking contrast to the modernity of those within which it is enveloped.


Freetown received its name because it was the first place where slaves were freed in 1834. Before the advent of roads, a foot path from Old Freetown in the East was the primary thoroughfare for traveling to the settlements in the West. All that’s left of the old village, is a cemetery and some rubble. A few miles away on the beach is the old hermitage that is considered to be one of the oldest buildings on the island. Built in 1901, it was first a Baptist Church and later served as a hermitage for a Trappist monk.

High Rock gets its name from the 30-foot high rocky bluff between the coastal road and the sea. The village is built of mostly wooden framed buildings. Some villagers fish for a living, others work in Freeport or at the nearby South Riding Point oil transshipment facility.

McLean’s Town is located on a cay, at the easternmost point reachable by road. It consists of two roughly parallel roads. The villagers are good fishermen, and those with boats ferry people to the nearby cays. The town is most famous for its Conch Cracking Contests held during the Heroes’ Day holiday in October.

Deep Water Cay offers the ultimate for bone fishing enthusiasts. Located on the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island, it is accessible only by boat from McLean’s Town. The cay is surrounded by 250 square miles of shallow sand and mud flats, where the gray, ghostlike bone fish feed off shrimp, crustaceans, and insects.

Sweeting’s Cay is a quaint fishing village, located 55 miles east of Freeport. It is only accessible by boat and has a population of 400 people, most of whom live by selling lobster and conch in Freeport. The village stretches about a mile, and electricity and roads were only recently installed.
Lightbourne Cay is an uninhabited cay located just east of Sweeting’s Cay and is accessible only by boat. It is ideal for picnics and snorkeling right off the beach. At low tide, the shoreline becomes a spectacular sandy expanse, stretching for yards.

Water Cay is named for the abundant supply of fresh water to be found there. This small island lies in northern Grand Bahama, almost in the center of the island.

The Isle Of Capri Casino

at Our Lucaya has opened its 20,000 square foot facility directly across the street from the Port Lucaya Marina.

C – Attractions & Things To Do

grand bahama island attractions

Garden of The Groves
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
The Bahamas
Phone: 242-373-5668
Fax: 242-373-2177

The garden is open Sunday to Monday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily. Tickets are available for sale until 3:30 p.m.

Considered one of the finest botanical Gardens in the Caribbean, the Garden of the Groves has more than 10,000 species of flowers, shrubs, trees, and exotic plant life. Along its shaded, winding paths are several waterfalls and exotic native birds. It is an ideal spot for those simply seeking a serene setting for quiet reflection.
Its old-fashioned chapel is also the perfect place for a romantic, tropical wedding. Winding paths, duck ponds and cascading waterfalls provide the perfect backdrop for those keepsake photos. Floral patterns of gardenias, bougainvillea, and hibiscus to name a few, make beautiful bouquets that will certainly complement whatever is worn on that special occasion.

Hydroflora Gardens
Freeport
Grand Bahama Island
The Bahamas
Tel: 242-352-6052
Fax: 242-373-6976

This unusual garden, located in Freeport, offers visitors a fascinating look into the science and technique of “hydroponics”—growing plants without soil. The tropical and sub-tropical flowers and plants produced on this five-acre compound are as beautiful as their growth process is interesting. Among the unusual exhibits are several of what is called “Bible” plants and a sunken garden.

Native Crab Fest
Enjoy delicious native crabs at the Churchill Garden at Club 2000 (formerly Churchill Pub). This event starts at 6:30 p.m. every Friday. 242-351-2692.

Native Fish Fry
Enjoy delicious fried fish, potato bread, conch salad and more every Wednesday at Smith’s Point, starting at 6:30 p.m. 242-352-8044

Port Lucaya Marketplace
Weekly activities include: theme night, Mardi Gras, Reggae night, Island night, DJ Jam session, Junkanoo parades, fire and limbo dancing, and other native acts. 242-373-8446.


Freeport Bahamas Sportfishing


Lucayan Marina Village
Phone: 242.373.8888 x522

Captain Chris and crew guarantee a wonderful day on the water. A native of the Bahamas, Captain Chris is one of the most respected fishermen in the islands and has been fishing the waters of Freeport for over 25 years. Board a 55-foot luxury ocean sportfisherman vessel and head out to sea in search of wahoo, tuna, kingfish, barracuda, mackerel and bonita. Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, food and drink: bait is provided!

Rand Memorial Nature Centre

Covering an area of over 100 acres, the nature center features over 200 kinds of birds and 400 types of plants.

Straw Market

The Bahamas is well-known for its straw work, and at this market you can find virtually every kind of straw object made in the islands. There are also plenty of carvings and other traditional goods.

International Bazaar

The International Bazaar is Freeport’s main shopping zone, a sprawling collection of stores selling a wide variety of goods from all over the world, as well as traditional Bahamian arts and crafts.

Outside of Freeport

West End

During the era of prohibition, West End and the nearby towns on Grand Bahamas’ west coast were the epicenter of rum-running. The area is rich in stories, and also has a long, gorgeous beach.


Pinetree Stables


Beachway Drive North
Phone: 242.373.3600

Saddle up for a two-hour guided trail ride on Grand Bahama Island. Wind through the Pine Forest and Rocky Coppice. Cross a Wetland and trot along the beach and into the sea. Yes, you will get wet!
Friendly guides and reliable trail horses lead the way and prior horseback riding experience is not required. Minimum rider age is 8 years and maximum rider weight is 200 pounds. Jeans and sneakers are suggested for your comfort. Reservations are required.

The Resort at Bahamia Tennis Club


The Mall at West Sunrise Highway
Phone: 242.350.7000

Year-round blue skies and warm weather provide ideal conditions for a tennis match at The Resort at Bahamia. The resort offers nine courts including both hard surface and clay surface. The courts are lighted for night play, available by special arrangement.
Guests and non-guests are accommodated with advance reservations. Tennis rackets are available for rent.

Isle of Capri Golf Resort and Casino

Lucaya, Grand Bahamas

7.5 acres of sandy beaches, sparkling turquoise waters, and tropical surroundings commonly described as cool, colorful, and Caribbean.

749 beautiful guest rooms and suites – most with ocean views.

14 restaurants and cafés; pool area, with three spa tubs and four pools, including a large serpentine pool

25,000-square-foot Senses Spa & Fitness Center.

Gaming space: 19,000 sq. ft.

The new Isle of Capri Casino at Our Lucaya offers 400 slot machines and 30 game tables, with a high limit slot area as well as a high limit room for table game players.
Our Lucaya Golf Club


Royal Palm Way Lucaya
Phone: 242.373.1333

Our Lucaya resort is home to two of the top golf courses on Grand Bahama Island:
Host to the most prestigious golfing events in the Caribbean, the Lucayan Course at Our Lucaya resort is among the top 100 golf resorts in the world. Built by famed designer Dick Wilson, the course features well-protected elevated greens, pristine fairways lined with tropical foliage and trademark Wilson doglegs. Although the Lucayan Course uses water hazards sparingly, the 6,824-yard track presents challenges unequalled in the Caribbean.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the Reef Course at Our Lucaya resort is brand new and has already been selected as the home of the Senior PGA Tour’s “The Lucayan Senior Slam” for the next three years. Thirteen of its eighteen holes are bordered by water, and at 6,930 yards from championship tees, the Reef Course tests even the most prominent golfers.
A tip for golfers who have never teed off in the Bahamas: all of the greens are Bermuda grass and every putt is influenced by grain: all balls will tend to break more toward the setting sun (west/ southwest).


Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO)


Port Lucaya
Phone: 242.373.1244

The Underwater Explorers Society, established in 1965, has been rated “the most sophisticated and best equipped dive facility in the world” by Skin Diver Magazine. Only at UNEXSO can you dive in the open water with dolphins, experience the adrenaline rush on a heart pounding shark dive, and view the splendor of an intact freighter lying in 100 feet of crystal clear water. In addition to diving for certified divers, UNEXSO offers snorkeling adventures, dolphin encounters and learn-to-dive programs.
Reservations are required and rates vary depending on the activity. It is best to call 800.992.DIVE before leaving for your trip to inquire about availability. Sport equipment and photography rentals are available.

Lucayan National Park

Lucayan National Park covers over 40 acres and four distinct ecological zones. Along with its abundance of plant and animal species, there are also caves you can explore via walkways.

D – Family Fun Attractions

Garden of The Groves
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
The Bahamas
Phone: 242-373-5668
Fax: 242-373-2177

The garden is open Sunday to Monday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily. Tickets are available for sale until 3:30 p.m.

Considered one of the finest botanical Gardens in the Caribbean, the Garden of the Groves has more than 10,000 species of flowers, shrubs, trees, and exotic plant life. Along its shaded, winding paths are several waterfalls and exotic native birds.

Hydroflora Gardens
Freeport
Grand Bahama Island
The Bahamas
Tel: 242-352-6052
Fax: 242-373-6976

This unusual garden, located in Freeport, offers visitors a fascinating look into the science and technique of “hydroponics”—growing plants without soil. The tropical and sub-tropical flowers and plants produced on this five-acre compound are as beautiful as their growth process is interesting. Among the unusual exhibits are several of what is called “Bible” plants and a sunken garden.

Lucayan National Park

Lucayan National Park covers over 40 acres and four distinct ecological zones. Along with its abundance of plant and animal species, there are also caves you can explore via walkways.

Rand Memorial Nature Centre

Covering an area of over 100 acres, the nature center features over 200 kinds of birds and 400 types of plants.

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Holmes Rock & Seagrape together form a little community known for a unique cave that sits behind a local night club. It is over 200 yards in diameter and produces fresh water at low tide and salt water at high tide.